Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Weeknight Bolognese

*Serves 4-6 generously


• 1 med onion- diced
• 1 lage carrot- diced
• 1 ½ rib celery- diced
• 4 cloves minced garlic
• 2 strips bacon- diced
• 2 Bay leaves
• 3/4 lb ground sirloin
• 1/4 lb italian sausage
• 1/2 Tbs dried oregano
• 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
• 1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided
• 1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, plus 1 15-oz can
• 2 Tbs tomato paste
• kosher salt and ground black pepper
• 3/4 lb dried pasta
• 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
• Thyme bundle (optional)
• Butter to taste (optional)
• Sugar to taste (optional)

In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, garlic into a paste. In a large pan over medium heat, coat the pan w/ oil. Add pureed veggies and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to medium high heat, add the diced bacon, and cook until water is evaporated and veggies become nice and caramelized/brown. The browning step is very important because this will serve as the base/flavor profile to your sauce, but be careful not to burn the veggies.

Add the beef and sausage to the veggies. Cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, 5-7 minutes, until the meat has started to brown and is no longer pink. Be sure to brown the meat to develop the flavor. Add red pepper flakes, oregano, and tomato paste and cook for 1 more minute, or until fragrant.

Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomato sauce, salt/pepper to tasted, and stir until combined. Add the bay leaves and bundle of thyme. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer 10-15 minutes.  I
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and pour into a large serving bowl.

As the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and remaining 1/4 cup wine. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. Taste for seasonings. Add salt/pepper as needed.  If acidic, add butter and/or sugar. You can either add the sauce to the pasta, along with the parmesan cheese, and toss, OR you can plate the plain pasta and top with the bolognese and parmesan.  I prefer the latter, so I can freeze leftover sauce. Garnish with additional parmesan when serving.